You gotta believe school activities build character

We “gotta believe” in all the things that school athletics stands for. Even if winning draws more believers, character building has little to do with scores.

Really important “gotchas” are those that stay with us after the games are over. The everyday small ones add up to big ones. After a 15-yard penalty, one of the calmest players I ever coached responded to my question, “Why did you do that?” with “When you gotta, you gotta.”

Challenges and confidence and trust and loyalty tests are big and small. And tough decisions that make believers are not limited to athletics.

The Sultan High School Band makes one believe in musicians. After practicing their routine through the summer and all fall, the 60-member band chose to forego its own state competition to support the Turks football team in a playoff game.

At SHS, November 14th, after their indoor concert, they marched outside to perform the routine they had practiced for the state competition. Before their parents, the football team and home town supporters those young men and women demonstrated why kids do amazing things.

When “you gotta, you gotta” happens every day in every school activity.

You “gotta believe” the Sultan marching band is more than music champions.

Real champions build up a huge supply of character every day. Character building occurs in the music rooms of the schools your family attends, too.

I hope the 1983 members of the Sultan stage band remember the triple standing ovation it received at the National Federation of High School Association meeting in that fancy hotel in downtown Seattle. I do.

George Ohlreich, like all dedicated school music educators, was no stranger to fantastic music. Dressed in tuxedos and glowing with confidence, his students wowed more than 500 school and city leaders from all over the USA.

High school band members have the kind of character employers like to hire.

Without attitude, responsibility and self-image, leadership and a game plan for success don’t exist. Character is a sum total of attitudes, not physical skills.

So, Robbie, let me try to explain why the presidential candidates are fighting. They’re not president yet. Both want to be, but only one can win.

No, they can’t just go to a shootout like on the soccer field. The rules say presidential candidates can’t have a tie … or even an overtime.

First there are imposed rules to which they must comply. Second there are rules of discretion (choices and decisions). Finally there are options which give presidential candidates expectations of, directions for and challenges to their character.

Imposed character is designed to teach responsibility. Intent can be substituted only if the referee allows it. Even if you did not intend to foul an opponent, the fouled player still shoots free throws. Referees are supposed to call the fouls. They don’t determine intent. The competitor is responsible to comply with the rule.

Discretion is the heart of character. Attitude coaches discretion. In athletics, like politics, penalties for protests are at the discretion of the referees. If you “hafta” physically contact the ref, the ref has “gotta” throw you out. Discretion is making acceptable choices.

Options are the character tests for what we believe. Substitutions are encouraged until the right combinations are found.

Somewhere I read that 92 percent of performance is related to the individual’s attitude. That leaves eight percent for skill development. Teaching students to believe in themselves is a character education goal of every school activity director, coach, teacher, parent and student. It’s fun and games at their most productive moments.

The intent and all the evidence leads to one conclusion: You “gotta believe” character built in school activities is awesome. Count my vote for school coaches and activities directors.


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